*Honourable mention for the @Wattpunk Aesthetic Art Writing Contest*
The Hiberian Sphere
The passengers aboard the Horus held on tight, as the spunky bi-plane zoomed away from the Leng Peninsula.
The Horus was a Crawford Swift Wyvern, designed for cargo runs; it wasn't built for risky high-speed maneuvers. But in this case, Captain Youssef El-Awari needed to put as much distance as he could between his plane and the Jetstream Marauders. He knew their flight of aerofrigates would have a difficult time escaping those pterodactyls, but just in case...
Luckily, Youssef had made just the modification for situations like this. He flicked the switch to activate the Keyhoe G8 turbojet engine.
"Insha'Allah... here we go!"
The experimental motor kicked into gear, thrusting the Horus into the upper troposphere.
"Sonuvagoat! Ya did it, mate!" shouted 'Ocker' Rob McKenzie from the cabin.
As the plane slowed to cruising speed, that dreaded plateau and its vile creatures receded into the distance. Millie Farquar carefully reeled in the kite-mounted camera that had been snapping photos throughout their escape.
"What a scoop! Wait until the boys at the Times-Envoy hear about this," said Millie. "FREELANCE ADVENTURERS RECOVER PRICELESS CELTIC ARTIFACT FROM SKY BRIGANDS. Why, I could win a Kane for this!"
"Bugger off!" said Ocker, "Find a different take 'cause ya can't mention what our quarry is."
"I'm sorry, habibi, but we had an agreement," said Youssef. "You may publish all but do not refer to the Inneall na Neamh."
Millie sighed. "Can we at least stop in Clarke's Reach so I can wire the newsroom?"
"No, sit down! We'll refuel in Cape Burroughs, then go straight to County Bradbury, posthaste," said Youssef.
"I hope you trust my flying skills, Ocker," he continued. "Because I threw out your parachute. Can't have you jumping out with the quarry mid-flight."
"What?!" said Ocker. "Would I ever d—"
Then he remembered their hijinks in Asimovgrad, and Fort Kipling, and Rohmerburg, and...
"Let's have a peek at what all this fuss is about!"
The Inneall na Neamh certainly didn't look very ancient. Inside the sturdy packing crate was some kind of miniature armillary sphere. It had the familiar mechanical structure, with metal rings that rotated in sync, representing celestial bodies in orbit. But instead of the sun or the earth as its center, there was a golden apple. There were no recognizable constellation names on the face of the rings. One ring had a set of exotic Celtic runes; another was inlaid with the image of a silver tree branch, with notches marked in uneven intervals.
"Would probably get us a small fortune on the black market," said Ocker, taking mental notes about reliable fences. For once, he wasn't just being greedy—between the susso queues and unstable wool industry, his mum and brother were struggling in Garrayura.
Youssef stood firm. "No, we owe this mission to Declan."
"I knew ye lot would come through!" said Declan O'Rourke.
"Just like the Galway Rifles were there for us in Agrabah, mate!" said Ocker.
"Aye! Woulda joined ye to be sure but ..."
Declan's voice trailed off as he positioned his motorized wheelchair at his favorite table in The Nymph's Teat.
"I'm sure we could get Ignition Cal to build you some kind of automatonic movement rig, Dec," said Youssef, "That kid works magick with his tools."
"Well, that boyo looks mighty busy right now!" said Declan.
The child mechanic (and Dust Bowl orphan) had joined their flight to the Irish Free State. He finished repairing the Horus much earlier. Cal joined Millie and some boisterous locals in a lewd rendition of "Wild Rover".
"Crikey!" said Ocker, Cal's recent legal guardian.
"While ye go play governor, I've got something for Youssef outside."
* * *
"Those Marauders were gonna sell this to Studiengruppe der Übermenschen. Thought it would lead them to their 'Aryan' paradise, Ultima Thule," said Declan. "Only partly wrong."
"Says the man who just escaped a plateau fulla dinosaurs."
Youssef nodded. "Touche."
"See that castle on the hill, with the huge telescope?"
"The Bradburytown Behemoth, yes?"
"Aye. Built by the 2nd Earl of Vance nearly a century ago—to activate the Inneall na Neamh. See, most people don't realize that he was also a major folklorist. He didn't just want to study the heavens. He was lookin' for a way to reach the Otherworlds, and this, right here..."
Declan brought out the sphere and pointed to the apple. "...was the key."
He turned the ring with runes until it snapped into place. "And the map."
Then he rotated the ring with the silver bough. Click! "And the passport."
"So what now?" said Youssef.
"We need a guide. Fortunately, I know just your man."
Declan handed him a file: newspaper clippings about a Confederate veteran's mysterious disappearance; a lithograph with seemingly alien glyphs; and map to Kingsmouth, New Guernsey.
"Find me Jimmy Carver," he said, "The Warmaster of Tír na nÓg."
About the author: paolojcruz
Paolo dabbles mostly in microfiction, flash fiction, and interactive storytelling. He firmly believes in Arthur C. Clarke's third law. By extension, he's convinced that any sufficiently advanced natural phenomena is indistinguishable from the paranormal.
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Tales Told Beneath the Gaslamp : A Wattpunk AnthologyScience Fiction
A collection-in-progress of short stories created by Wattpadders, curated by @Wattpunk, for all those seeking brief adventures in punk worlds. Stay tuned for: Steampunk, Cyperpunk, Dieselpunk, Biopunk, Nanopunk, Atompunk, Clockpunk, Decopunk ... It...